Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Gandhiji told the author Louis Fischer his story. He had gone to the December 1916 annual convention of the Congress. Some random peasant "emaciated" meaning thin, with a shrunken face - like a old man's - came up to him. He was Rajkumar Shukla, from Champaran in Bihar. It was on the foothills of the Himalayas.

Rajkumar was illiterate - he had never read cbse flamingo and vistas - and wanted to complain about the injustice to the Champaran peasants.
"BLOODY BRITISH! Chutiye sale they want 3/20 of our indigo harvest from our farms! MC BC etc etc"
Now Gandhiji sabko bhao nahi dete the. Gandhi said he had appointments in Kanpur 'CAWNPUR' etc and had to go to other parts of India. Shukla followed him for weeks. Gandhi was impressed by his "tenacity".
"Sale ko bhao dena padega... he has tenacity and determination"
He said he would meet Shukla in Calcutta. Shukla met Gandhi and took him to Bihar. Shukla took him to Rajendra Prasad's house, but he was out of town. His servants Shukla ko jante the, but they did not allow Gandhi to draw water from the well because they did not know whether he was an untouchable or not.
"Beta shakal dekhi hai apni...you can stay here, par pani nahi lena"

Gandhi went to Muzzafarpur, where JB Kripalani received him at the station with a large body of students. It was extraordinary, bahut achchi baat thi, because JB Kripalani was a government professor and Gandhi advocated home-rule, which was anti-government.
News of Gandhi's help spread. People and lawyers came to see him; he scolded the lawyers for collecting large fees from peasants i.e. "sharecroppers". He realized law courts were useless, the peasants needed to be freed from fear itself.

Now, recently Germany developed synthetic indigo. This means abhi indigo ke market mei lots of indigo will come, and prices will fall. The british planters who exploited farmers for indigo will no longer get so much money. Basically, abhi unka profit khatam ho raha tha. They had to exit, and tried to make some extra money while going out. They told the farmers, OK we will release you from the agreement, but you will have to pay us compensation ie we are leaving you, but we will take money before going. Hoshiyari dikha rahe the, jate-jate paisa bana liya.
Some peasants agreed. Then they also found out the British were fooling them - now that man-made indigo had come, the British would have to leave anyway. They were angry.

Gandhi arrived in Champaran, but the British Landlord association and the British official commissioner did not help him at all. Gandhi, with help of several lawyers, continued investigating facts. Soon he was given a notice to quit Champaran.
"Sale yaha se nikal"
Gandhi: "Bhok me jaa"
Gandhi telegraphed Rajendra Prasad for help. He sent a report to the Viceroy. Soon thousands of peasants demonstrated for Gandhi, against the authorities. This was proof that British might could be challenged by Indians.

Gandhi pleaded guilty in court, saying that he had a conflict of duty - kya karu ki na karu - he should not be a lawbreaker but also should help common people. He said he obeyed the voice of conscience(the same voice that tells you to stop watching porn and log off facebook and study).
Judge ki thori phat gayi. He asked everyone to wait for a few days.
Gandhi's lawyers said that if he was sentenced, they would go home. Gandhi reminded them of the injustice to the sharecroppers. They then said they would accompany Gandhi to jail.
Then the case against Gandhi was dropped. Civil disobedience had won for the first time in India.

Now all negotiations, inquiries, investigations, planning and recording of evidence took place. There was alot of evidence against the British planters. They said ok, we will pay, but how much? Bhao dena padega, par kitna?
Gandhi asked only 50%. They said no, 25%. Gandhi said ok, we will take 25%, saying that the amount of money was not important, only that unki aukad kam ho gayi. Their prestige was reduced. They had behaved like lords till now and now the peasants gained courage against them. The peasants had rights and defenders.

Then in a few years the British planters left and Indigo cropping disappeared.
Gandhi aisa nahi tha ki he would make large general solutions that should work for the entire country. They look good on paper, but are difficult to achieve in practice. He wanted to help the backwardness of the Champaran district. He called two of his disciples with their wives. His youngest son Devadas and his wife also came to Champaran to help. They set up primary schools, and taught cleanliness.

Gandhi got a doctor. There were three medicines. Castor oil, quinine, sulphur ointment. (wtf?)
Jiske paas coated tongue, usse mila castor oil; jiske paas malaria fever usse mila castor oil + quinine; jiske paas skin eruptions usse mila castor oil + sulphur ointment.
His wife Kasturbai talked to women about their dirty clothes; women replied that they had only one set of clothes. (Dirty to hoenge na behenji...nange ghume kya hum)

Champaran was a turning point because basically, Gandhi declared the British could not challenge him in his own country.
It did not begin as defiance or an anti-British movement; Gandhi was only trying to help the poor peasants. This was Gandhi's pattern - har rooz ki roti-kapda ki problems sambhalta tha woh. He didn't like abstract notions, but was loyal to breathing human beings.

His followed Charles Andrews tried to help him in this movement but Gandhi refused his help. He said that Indians were strong enough to win it on their own, and just because his follower was an Englishman they should not want his help. They should be self-reliant.

Fuck that was long, I don't know if I can write another one.